How to Balance Your Health During the Holiday Season: Part 2 – Smart Eating Habits
Do you feel it in the air? No, we aren’t talking about the crisp autumn breeze, or the smell of leaves burning down the street. No, we mean the indulgent excitement of the oncoming holiday season – not to mention the accompanying stress of busy schedules and endless things to be done.
If you are health conscious, you may be worried to some extent on how you’ll make it through the next few months without having to loosen your belt.
In our last post, we talked about the need to stay active during this season and how you could accomplish that without losing your mind amidst all your obligations and family gatherings.
Remember, burning more calories than you eat is ALWAYS better than just trying to starve yourself of the calories in the first place.
But we can only burn so much.
If you say goodbye to moderation and start packing away food (and possibly booze) like you are preparing for a 100-day fast, it won’t really matter how active you are. Your excessive caloric intake will outpace any exercise program you are on and eventually tip the scales (pun intended) in the wrong direction.
So with that in mind, here are some simple but important tips to keep in mind as you navigate the next few months of activities.
Fill Up on the Good Calories
One of the common mistakes we make is focusing on calorie intake so much that we ignore what type of calories we are consuming. The type of food is just as (if not more) important than the amount of food you eat.
Load up on veggies, lean proteins, complex carbs, and unsaturated fats (like avocados). Try to stay away from foods that are starchy, high in sugar, or fatty (saturated) – or at least minimize how much you consume. (Sure, some mashed potatoes are fine, but please don’t eat a pound of them.)
The right type of food will not only reduce the potential fat storage, but in some cases actually help burn it.
Watch the alcohol intake
There are plenty of reasons for this tip, but we are doing a PSA so let’s just stick to the health-related stuff.
Did you know that one gram of alcohol is seven calories? Compare that to one gram of protein at only three calories. On top of that, alcohol calories are “empty” – meaning they serve no purpose and will burn off first.
Here’s why that’s important: if you are consuming high carbohydrate beverages (like beer), the alcohol in those drinks will burn off first, leaving the carbs hanging around to get converted to fat cells. Where do you think we get the term “beer belly” from?
If you are going to drink, then we suggest that you:
- be moderate in the amount you drink
- stick to wines and low-carb alcohols
- be conscious of the tendency to snack when you are drinking
In America, we are very fast-paced so unfortunately our eating habits often follow suit. The problem with fast eating is that by the time your mid realizes you are at capacity, it’s usually too late. Take your time and chew slowly. This way it will be easier for you to tell when you’re full.
This one is a bit obvious but still worth mentioning. Even “good calories” can add up too quickly if you aren’t watching your intake levels. Go ahead and enjoy yourself. Grab that delicious-looking hors d’oeuvre, but stop at a one or two (not ten).
Log your food
Admittedly, this one might be a little much for some people, but one of the best ways to stay mindful of the type and quantity of calories you are eating is by logging your daily intake.
If you know that you have 600 calories left for the day, it is a lot easier to say no to that 400+ calorie puff pastry that’s just going to leave you still feeling hungry with no margin for anything else.
At the end of the day, no one wants to be a slave to their diet. So try to enjoy the parties, events, and meals. But remember: all things in balance. Enjoy the company of family and friends, try some delicious new foods, but stay mindful about how and what you to cut guilt out of the holiday season.